UAE - A labour dispute involving nearly 400 workers of a catering company was settled on Thursday thanks to the high-level involvement of labour officials, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) and diplomatic missions, Khaleej Times can reveal.
The ADJD, in coordination with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) also deployed a mobile court to the workers' accommodation in Mussafah to expedite the resettlement of pending dues.
According to statement released by the ADJD, authorities helped in paying Dh3 million in unpaid wages to 400 workers in Abu Dhabi by liquidating their employer's bank guarantee.
"Necessary measures have also been taken to transfer the willing workers' residences under other companies and to provide travel tickets for those wishing to return home," said the department.
Khaleej Times had on January 11 reported the plight of the workers of Al Wasita Catering company, who were stranded in Mussafah without salary for months. The workers also spent weeks without food after some of the company owners fled the country.
Water and electricity connection was also temporarily disconnected at their accommodation.
The men, mostly from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Egypt, Nigeria and the Philippines were demanding their pending salaries and end of service benefits to go back home.
Indian Ambassador Navdeep Singh Suri told Khaleej Times that the workers were offered two options for settling the dispute. "They can take 50 per cent salary immediately along with air ticket and return to their countries within five days. Or they can pursue the case via the labour court and wait until the company can pay their full dues. Many workers are choosing the first option," said Suri.
The ADJD confirmed that out of 400 workers, only 90 has opted to fight the case.
The ambassador said that the MoHRE has also agreed to facilitate the visa cancellation of the 90 workers without any payment. "The ministry has also agreed to put them in touch with other employers so that they may find alternate employment."
Speaking to Khaleej Times, most workers said they are happy and relieved. "We want to thank the UAE government, the embassy and media for taking up our case and helping us go back to our families. We were staring at an uncertain future last week," said Beerankutty, a worker. Another worker from Egypt said they are happy to accept 50 per cent of their pending dues. "That is not a bad deal after all. Otherwise, we would have got stranded here forever," said the chef.
According to officials, the labour dispute had started after the non-national partner in the company, as well as the executive directors, fled the country after misappropriation of large sums of money from the company. This resulted in financial issues and freezing of the company's funds under a judicial order.
This necessitated the intervention of the government entities to end the problem of the workers while guaranteeing their legal and human rights, said judicial officials.
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